Let’s Talk about White Allyship…
As a white folk in the midst of the next wave of Black liberation, it can be confusing where our place in the fight against racism lies. First of all let recognize that ending racism is not the job of solely those who experience it, it’s going to take the action of folks who hold power and privilege because of being white. Right now, our job as white folks is to use that power to support folks who experience oppression, despite the fact that we don’t personally experience: racism. But one does not just all the sudden “be” an ally, ally ship is a verb- an action we need to be constantly enacting. “Ally” as a verb is something Franchesca Ramsey speaks about in her short and informative video “5 tips to be an ally” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dg86g-QlM0
Some other things to think about as a white ally is being careful not to develop a “pat on the back” mentality about fighting racism. It totally is super duper to be an ally fighting racism, the work you do it super important- however its more common decency to fight for everyone’s rights rather than self-congratulatory.
Brit Bennett states in her article I don’t know what to do with good white people, “Over the past two weeks, I’ve seen good white people congratulate themselves for deleting racist friends or debating family members or performing small acts of kindness to Black people. Sometimes I think I’d prefer racist trolling to this grade of self-aggrandizement. A racist troll is easy to dismiss. He does not think decency is enough. Sometimes I think good white people expect to be rewarded for the decency. We are not like those other white people. See how enlightened and aware we are? See how we are good? Over the past two weeks, I have fluctuated between anger and grief. I feel surrounded by black death. What a privilege, to concern yourself with seeming good while the rest of us want to seem worthy of life.” This may seem harsh or angry in a way that makes you react as a white person. But I would invite you to pause – take a moment to remember that racism is a built on a system of oppression, not solely you as a person. Thinking about your own privilege as a white person can be overwhelming and lead to guilt, but I would challenge you to push past those feelings and recognize your privilege as an opportunity to leverage your power to support folks of color.
With that in mind, lets keep thinking about what it means to actually embody being an ally. A huge and often overlooked point that Jamie Utt makes “Part of being an ally means giving credit where credit is due and never taking credit for the anti-oppressive thinking, writing, theorizing, and action of the marginalized and oppressed.” Ideas around-oppression may be new to you, but they aren’t new –they come from folks that have been experiencing oppression- so its important to recognize that.
Here is a link to Jamie Utt’s article “10 things every ‘ally’ needs to remember” that references ideas Mia McKenzie of Black Girl Dangerous talks about. http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/11/things-allies-need-to-know/